Two years after Charles Kushner called the Jersey City mayor “another New Jersey asshole politician” and his firm sued the city for blocking its massive mixed-use project at Journal Square, the two sides have ended their legal battle.
Mayor Steve Fulop said the city has settled all litigation with Kushner Companies and the real estate firm can move forward on constructing two 64-story towers in Jersey City. According to Fulop, the city will not give Kushner any tax abatements.
Kushner Companies first planned to erect the mixed-use towers on vacant land in underdeveloped Journal Square in 2014. Apartments were to sit atop retail and commercial space, with WeWork as one of the anchor tenants.
It was pegged as a transformational project for an area of Jersey City that was known mostly as a transportation hub for being the headquarters of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson, a transit system.
But the project ran into trouble when Kushner Companies’ plan to raise $150 million in construction financing through the EB-5 program backfired in May 2017. A Chinese roadshow advertising the project caused an uproar and sparked a federal investigation.
Tension then began brewing between Fulop and Kushner Companies over tax abatements and missed payments.
In April 2018, the city threatened to block the development, citing a missed deadline to start construction and an unpaid $40,000 municipal fee. The Jersey City redevelopment executive director, Diana Jeffrey, also said the agency doubted the developers’ ability to fully fund 1 Journal Square and to “see the project through to fruition.”
Jersey City denied the project a tax abatement, prompting the Kushner Companies to sue in June 2018, alleging it was being discriminated against because of its ties to President Donald Trump. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in August 2019. The firm countered with another lawsuit last year, once again accusing the city of persecuting the company because of Jared Kushner’s relationship with Trump (Charles’s son, the former head of Kushner Companies, is the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser).
At the time of the initial suit, Fulop said “Bottom line — the same way they illegally use the presidency to make money is the same way here they try to use the presidency to be pretend victims. They will do anything to manipulate a situation.”
In addition to his profane reference to Fulop, Charles Kushner, the founder of Kushner Companies, accused the mayor of switching sides to appeal to “Trump-haters.”
But now that the litigation has been wrapped up, Kushner Companies can finally move forward with its project.
Construction is set to begin in 2021 and will include a 10-level parking garage for building residents. WeWork will no longer be a tenant. Each tower will have 52 stories of residential units above a 12-story base building with ground-floor retail, amenity space, additional residential uses and structured parking, according to a press release from the Fulop’s office.
The height of the buildings has also been reduced to 710 feet from 758 initially.
The new redevelopment agreement includes a $2.5 million investment in local arts initiatives and will require Kushner Companies to focus on hiring locally, the release said.
“Fortunately, after many years and many prior developers who left this property to stagnate, the city’s great team and Kushner Companies have been able to set aside their differences and collaborate to reach common ground,” Fulop said in a statement.
The Kushner Companies is betting big on New Jersey, the state where the firm made its name. The firm recently bought seven rental buildings from First Real Estate Investment Trust of New Jersey for $266.5 million. The portfolio consists of 1,058 units in Wayne, River Edge, Westwood Hills, Rockaway, Red Bank and Hackensack, as well as Middletown, New York.